By Matt Sloane
WebMD Health News
Walking the show floor at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, it’s clear that health-tech manufacturers continue to double down on “the wearable.”
If you somehow aren’t familiar with the term, these are a class of health and fitness sensors you wear on your wrist, your belt –sometimes your head or even your feet – that measure various things.
There was no shortage of traditional wearables this year – and a trend towards more fashionable devices was apparent. But where the innovation really happened was in new smart devices that work with — or near — traditional wearables or smartphone apps, as well as wearables in different form.
First up is the Hidrate Spark, a connected water bottle that not only measures how much fluid you’re drinking daily, it actually reminds you to drink with a very pleasing glow.
The device also connects to your smartphone and to various health tracking apps, and uses your GPS location to automatically adapt your ideal water intake. Take the CES show in Las Vegas, for example – a city that, thanks to its location in the arid desert, tends to dehydrate you quickly. The Spark will take that into account, and up its recommendation.
“We use temperature, elevation and humidity,” says Coleman Iverson, one of the company’s founders. “It can also synch with your activity trackers to see how active you are, and recommend a very personalized goal of how much water you should drink each day.”
The Spark will be shipping by the end of January, and costs $ 59.
Next up is a device – really, a set of devices – that will not only help keep you hydrated, but remind you to take your pills, brush your teeth – even walk the dog.
The Peanut is the latest offering from French tech company Sen.se, and features a set of Bluetooth-connected wafers that you can program to do just about anything.
There are some that are purpose-built, like the hydro peanut, which monitors your water intake, and the med peanut, which sticks on the side of your regular pill bottle. When you take your pills for the day, a sensor detects the motion, pings the cloud, and the Peanut app knows you’ve taken the dose. If you don’t move the bottle, you get an alert that you’ve missed your medication.
The sleep peanut is a temperature and motion sensor that figures out when you’re asleep, determines the optimal time in your cycle to wake you up, and works with your Nest Learning Thermostat to keep the temperature at the right level while you snooze.
Finally, there is a peanut smart button that you can set to take various actions when you press it. “It can automatically send a text to your kids that dinner is ready, or turn on the lights – whatever you need,” said Amelie Haladjian, a representative of the company.
The system is in pre-order now, and each sensor costs $ 29. They all work independently of one another.
Then there’s the Bragi Dash, a set of earbuds the company is calling the world’s first “hearable.” Get it?
These buds have no wires, and fit snugly in your ears. While they’re there, they function as a music listening device, a Bluetooth headset for your phone calls and, most importantly, a health-monitoring device.
They’re built to detect heart rate through the tiny vessels in your ear, along with your step count — and in the coming months, your blood oxygen levels.
Not only do you get all that in a very small package, the Dash adds the ability to use gestures to take actions – flick your head backwards to answer a call, flick forward to hang up.
Why is this important? Because you can do all of this while running, biking, even swimming.
The Dash buds will begin shipping this month, and will set you back $ 299.
Mimo and Nima
And finally, a spin around the baby-tech showcase revealed two exciting parenting products – the Mimo smart baby monitoring kit, and the Nima food analyzer.
The Mimo, an adorable turtle-shaped wearable, attaches via magnets to a sensor-laden onesie for your newborn. These sensors monitor things like breathing, movement and temperature, send the data up to the cloud and then back down to your phone in real-time.
The starter kit comes with three of these machine-washable onesies. The tiny computer part of the device snaps off, and you can clip it to the next clean onesie.
Mimo also offers a connected crib sheet with many of the same sensors.
The starter kit is on the market now for $ 199.
Last, but certainly not least, is a very cool piece of tech called the Nima.
This device, from 6Sensor Labs, analyzes small pieces of food for allergens, using a chemical-based test. In under 2 minutes, the Nima can decipher whether the food you – or more importantly, your child – is about to eat contains gluten. In the future, it will be able to detect traces of peanuts and even dairy.
“Kids say, ‘I want to go to my friend’s house and take it to a sleepover,’ because people – grandparents — will say, ‘it’s fine, just a little bit won’t hurt them,’” said Carla Borsoi, VP of marketing for 6SensorLabs. “But in the end that’s not the case. The kids know that and they are advocates for themselves.”
The Nima system is in pre-order now for $ 199 for a starter kit.